Recently I have heard a bunch of rumblings about examining facts not feelings. Maybe you have heard this too? Even as someone who appreciates facts and has trouble lying even when it might be a good idea, I felt a strong resistance to this idea. After some thought I realized, it is because my feelings are a fact and the emotions I experience are an involuntary neurological event in my body. I am not suggesting that we dismiss facts, but rather that our feelings are critical pieces of information and should not be discounted as sloppy seconds to facts that are quantifiable.
On episode 90 of The Family Brain Podcast, I talk with author Sherianna Boyle about her book Emotional Detox.
Sherianna talks about how our emotions inform us about our world and that no emotion is a bad emotion (even though some are quite painful) however processing the emotion is critical. But how? I know that to process my emotions, I love physical activity like a long walk up and down the hills in my neighborhood or an almost comically deep breath. My husband always knows when my nervous system is trying to regulate by my deep breath. My kids like to slam doors…we are working on that. In Emotional Detox, Sherianna outlines the CLEANSE process that she coaches people to implement to process emotions. CLEANSE is an anacronym (harder to say out loud than I realized)
Clear your pathways, Look Inward, Emit Positivity, Activate, Nourish, Surrender and Ease your way to your best self.
I know that when my nervous system is activated, it is difficult for me to think clearly, so I love that CLEANSE is a tangible concept to hold on to as I work to process whatever emotion I am experiencing. After a traumatic experience several years ago, my nervous system was so worn down from not processing my emotions that I hopped out of my car one day without putting the car in park. As the massive SUV was rolling backwards I was tried to stop it with my arms. As if I could stop a 8,000 pound car. I use this story to illustrate that not only is not processing your emotions painful, but it can also be potentially dangerous. I always warn those going through grief or processing a recent trauma to slow down activities of daily life because the brain struggles to hold on to those intense emotions and remember to do things you would think you would never forget. I ended up jumping into the car and slamming on the emergency brake, but only because someone who was not in a reactive state was yelling for me to do that. I think on my own I would have stayed behind that rolling car.
Life has and will continue to throw us plot twists, and 2020 is one obvious reminder of that. We can not avoid pain or discomfort, but we can strengthen our ability to work through those emotions and process them so that we are more resilient when the inevitable plot twist comes our way.